Bonkers for BORNEO: Sandakan, Sepilok and Kinabatangan


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Published: May 9th 2011
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Borneo!

The past 2 weeks in Sabah (Malaysian Borneo) have been our best yet. We are now extremely tired and have spent far too much money but it has been completely worth it! From the depths of the ocean  to the highest peak we have seen some incredible sights and some amazing wildlife, it really has been unbelievable!

We have so much to tell you and so many pictures to show, so we will split Borneo into 3 separate blogs:
1. Orangutans and the mighty jungle
2. Sipadan diving
3. Mt Kinabalu 

......... Enjoy!

Orangutans!!!!!!

The first stop on our route was Sandakan, a town on the east coast close to Sepilok where the Orangutan rehabilitation centre is situated. The town itself didn't have that much going on but it did have an amazing seafood restaurant where we ate Barracuda fish and prawns every evening for a pound a time, followed by the best donuts we've ever tasted..... Delicious! The town is a 25 minute minibus journey from the Orangutan sanctuary where we spent the day wide eyed gazing at the great apes. There are 2 feeding times, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, we went to both and went for a short trek through the forest in-between. It was incredible to watch these amazing creatures at such a close distance munching on apples and bananas! The best part for us however was before and after the feeding times where we were extremely lucky to get up close and personal with a couple of them. On the way to the morning feed we came within metres of a female with her baby in the trees above us and then on the way to the afternoon feed we were in touching distance to another female that came down onto the boardwalk to greet us! It was so amazing, we had left early so we were all alone with her. She sat for a while in the tree staring and then came over to us, arm outstretched asking us for a hand! We spent ages watching her every move and got some great photos, absolutely stunning! It was such a great day, it felt like such a privilege  to get so close to such amazing creatures. As well as getting close to Orangutans however, we also got a bit too close for comfort to a group of Macaques. They also know when it's feeding time and so come and invade the area and try to sneakily steal food. We were on our way out at the end of the day and we came across a huge group of them on the
boardwalk, including the dominant male. We kept our eyes down and continued walking through the group as it was the only way out, we were almost passed them all when suddenly the dominant male decided to try and attack Rikki! It was pretty scary, he started hissing and baring his teeth and then lunged forward trying to grab Rikki! Rikki let out a kind of roar in defense and then tried to walk away but the macaque kept chasing! Eventually we got away, it was quite a funny moment if it wasn't for the threat of ending up in hospital with macaque bites! 

Whilst in Sandakan we also took another day trip to Sepilok
to visit the rainforest discovery centre;  a rainforest park with canopy walks and trails through the forest and a small botanical garden. We spent the day walking around the different trails and bird watching from the canopy towers. It's a great place to spend the day and it's really nice to see
the forest from a different perspective, looking down rather than up!

After a few days in Sandakan we booked onto a jungle nature tour to the Kinabatangan river. We went on a 3 day, 2 night tour where we stayed on the riverside in the middle of the rainforest. Our days consisted of wildlife watching at dawn and dusk by boat on the river, jungle trekking in the day and also trekking at night. The jungle trekking was great fun but very messy as it was extremely muddy - we were wading through mud up to our knees! 

During our time on the river we were really lucky, we saw wild orangutans, proboscis monkeys (endemic to Borneo) langurs, a crocodile, hornbills, snakes, kingfishers, herons, egrets, flying squirrels, owls and much more! The proboscis monkeys were brilliant, so funny to watch and so odd looking with their big noses. And of course seeing Orangutans in the wild has to be one of the trip's highlights. A-Malay-zing!! 


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